In honor of a recent trip to Cal-i-for-Nigh-Ay, over the course of the next few blogs, I’ll be sharing with you a some witty insights on the airport experience.
Up first? United Airlines’ boarding process:
Taking a page out of Southwest’s book, United has started using Zone Signage to corral passengers. Now, we know they’ve been doing the Zone Thang for a good long while, but they just recently got hip to displaying signage that allows people to line up in an orderly, anti-bar-room-brawl type fashion ALL while keeping the common areas clear for people NOT flying on United.
Are you in Zone 3? Then you can begin to line up in the special place marked Zone 3. Hint: It’s to the right of Zones 1 & 2 (which is where all of the escapees from the Island of Misfit toys line up) – and to the left of Zones 4 & 5 (this is the area reserved for the hoi polloi* although everyone is careful not to actually SAY “Zones 4 & 5” and “red-headed step-children of airplane travel” in the same sentence. But it’s heavily implied when the ticket agent makes an announcement every 3 minutes about how the folks in Zones 4 and 5 are basically S-O-L when it comes to overhead space and they should just check their chickens and summer sausage coolers now).
And there you are. All safe and snug in Zone 3. But, shhhhh! Shhhhhh!!! The show is starting. Quiet, Everyone! QUIET!! You don’t want to miss the show!!!
The boarding of Zones 1 & 2 could be considered Performance Art. And anyone NOT in Zones 1 & 2 watches in amazement as one-by-one the Escapees from Misfit Toy Island shamble on board.
Well, well, well. Who do we have here? It’s Charlie-in-the-box who is trying to simultaneously conduct a phone conversation while putting his phone (which contains his electronic boarding pass) on to the ticket scanner. He crouches low like he’s got a busted spring somewhere in the rear compartment. He’s still saying, “uh-huh…yeah…uh-huh” And quick! he slams the phone down over the red eye and then pop! he’s right back on the call like nothing ever happened. But dagnabbit! that didn’t work. And the boarding agent’s stern, “Sir, I’m going to have to ask you to disconnect your call and focus on the boarding process,” keeps the line moving. But that was fun while it lasted.
And then there’s that dude who’s vaguely reminiscent of the cowboy-riding-an-ostrich, complete with hat and neck kerchief. A buzzing sound goes off and lights start to revolve when he scans his…gasp!…PAPER boarding pass. “Sir, we’re not boarding that Zone yet. Can I please ask you to step to the back of that line?” Ack! Snagged, Cowboy! In front of Zone 3 AND the hoi polloi. That was totes mcgotes awkward.
Eventually we get the spotted elephant who’s carrying his OWN seatbelt expander and is announcing proudly that he has purchased an upgraded seat so as to not inconvenience others with his “girth.” Ok, sir. We weren’t judging you. Until you mentioned about the stuff we might be judging you on. And now? NOW some might be judging you. Either way, keepitmovin’. Some of us want to get home this century, so keepitmovin’.
After the bird-who-swims-instead-of-flies and the water-pistol-that-shoots-jelly get through Scan Tron Central, finally…FINALLY…they call Zone 3 and you board. You’re thoroughly exhausted from watching the Performance Art. You’re unsure, quite frankly, whether you paid too little for the show – or too much?
*Hoi Polloi?!? Ooooh, New Stay at Home Mom is bringin’ her A game when it comes to describing her fellow air travelers, isn’t she?! And no, she won’t tell you what hoi polloi means. You’ll have to look it up yourself. And you’ll remember it far longer that way thankyouverymuch and you’re welcome! Because if she GIVES you the answer, you’ll forget it by the time this is over. Wait. What? What was she talking about?!? Hottentot? Hottentot, I think. Yes, definitely Hottentot, which is any of the Khoisan languages spoken by the pastoral people of Namibia and South Africa. Phew! So glad we got that cleared up!